Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn’t have to deal with losses very often, but when he does, they’re usually in big games.
Earlier this week, Saban discussed last year’s last-second title game loss to Clemson, telling ESPN.com he puts it up there with a College Football Playoff semifinal loss to Ohio State and Auburn’s dramatic “Kick-Six” victory in 2013:
“I’ll never get over it because you never do with those kind of losses,” Saban told ESPN this week. “I never got over the returned field goal at Auburn. I never got over playing poorly against Ohio State and losing that game late. And then in this game, we didn’t play very well, and Clemson did when they had to. That’s what eats at you. We didn’t play that great against Washington, either (in a 24-7 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win) in the semifinal.
“Something happened to our team from the SEC championship game to the playoff. You look at the Clemson game, and our really good players didn’t play very well. But Clemson was a damn good team. They were the best team we played against with the best quarterback, and where we needed to play well, we didn’t.”
Since taking over the Alabama program in 2007, Saban has a record of 114-19, with six of those losses coming in his first year in Tuscaloosa.
With five national championships — four of which have been with the Crimson Tide — Saban has a lot to be proud of, but it’s clear those devastating losses stick with him.
Even if the Crimson Tide go undefeated and win the national championship each of the next three seasons, Saban will likely still be talking about the Kick-Six and what Alabama could have done better in last year’s championship game.
Of course, if a team is able to hand Alabama another brutal loss in 2017, that will likely take over Saban’s mind and drive him toward madness (or retirement, whichever comes first).